Friday, July 27, 2012

So how do people from the past affect noir mysteries?

Simple really. While researching genealogy and learning how people lived then, I get a glimpse into their personalities too.

It was clear to me that the William Wallace Morris was a brave and dedicated man. However, he also showed another side of his personality when I read and considered as many different aspects of his life that I could discover.

For example, he was married three times. His first wife died young without children. His second wife also died young, at least when compared to our standards of longevity. She had three children. His third wife outlived him and they had children too. The necessity of having children in the nineteenth century was powerful. Did he love his first wife best? Hard to say. I suspect from other thing I read that he loved his third best.

William worked as a city clerk. He could easily have run for political office and succeeded. He was a local hero. He was immensely popular, well-liked. Yet he seems to have deliberately stayed out of politics. Instead he wrote a biography on every City of Newark major. He was an educated man. He had terrific handwriting. Obviously, he enjoyed research and interviewing people about his subjects. I suspect he was like able, which is vastly different than popular. Probably charismatic, even charming.

The photographs I've seen showed me an attractive man who believed in grooming and dressing well. He was serious about his religion. His daughters seemed to have loved him as any father hopes to be loved.

Yet through it all, I could not help but getting a sense that he was also flawed income way he struggled to hide from others. Sure, losing his first wife at such a young age would wound any man, but I don't think it was that so much as something deeper. Perhaps until she died he was more aloof, a bit more chauvinistic. No man back then would dare reveal emotions the way men now, at least attempt to do (okay not all men, and maybe not most, but you know what I'm saying).

So William Wallace Morris, a boy and then man with the name of one of Scotland's greatest heroes and martyrs had that knowledge lurking in the background. His mother, herself a Wallace if Scotland must've taught him about his ancestor. How could that affect him when he was a boy? How about during those transitional teen years?

William had a grandfather who fought in the War of 1812, two great grandfathers who were Revolutionary War veterans. In some part of his mind he must've known he would need to follow in their footsteps or at least try to. History shaped the boy into manhood.

Yet, another part of him seemed to desire ordinariness. He wanted a family. He wanted his own business, and mostly, it seemed in the end, to fade into obscurity by taking a job as city clerk.

For me, all of the above is the answer it the question posed in the header.

Genealogy gave me a complete character definition. Perhaps did so better than my studying people at Wat-Mart (okay bad example) but you get the idea.

No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites Subscribe with Bloglines